Two killed in Christchurch after police pursuit
BY CHARLIE GATES, JO GILBERT AND KEITH LYNCH
A 22-year-old man has been charged with driving while disqualified after his car crashed into a couple in Christchurch last night, killing them, following a police pursuit.
LATEST: Further charges may be laid against the man, who will appear in Christchurch District Court on Tuesday, Detective Senior Sergeant David Harvey said.
The couple who were killed by the fleeing driver were Norm Fitt and Dee Jordan. The pair were active seniors who frequently participated in marathons and were regulars at a Ferrymead gymnasium.
They had won gold medals in the 60 to 70-years age group at the South Island masters aerobics competition.
Most mornings, Fitt and Jordan would go for a 10km run, then hit the gym in the evening for aerobics, step or weights.
At the time of the interview, Fitt told The Press: "I wouldn't want to be young again. We've got it made - the time, the attitude, the opportunity."
Last night's deaths brought the total killed in police chases this year to 13.
On the same night, another police chase in Timaru ended with the fleeing vehicle crashing into a rock-walled bridge. The driver was the only person in the car. He was taken to hospital and his condition is unknown.
Jordan and Fitt were struck and killed after a man, believed to be in his 20s, being pursued by police collided with their vehicle.
Jordan had been cut from a small, red Daihatsu Terios that had been hit at the intersection of Fitzgerald Ave and Gloucester St about 8.10pm, but later died.
The driver of the car being pursued suffered a cut to his head, but has since been admitted to Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit where his condition is stable.
A witness described the crash as something from "an action movie", with both vehicles airborne.
Police said a patrol car had spotted a dark-coloured car, carrying one man whom they later described as an alleged disqualified driver, travelling about 80kmh in a 50kmh zone.
Police signalled the driver to stop, but he sped off north along Fitzgerald Ave.
After a police chase that lasted about 30 seconds, the pursued car collided with the other vehicle.
'ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS STOP'
Christchurch area commander Inspector Malcolm Johnston appealed for drivers to stop fleeing police.
"They don't have the right to take innocent lives like this. They don't have the right to take other road-users lives..."
"I understand it was an absolutely horrific crash, we've now got two people dead. It's an absolute tragedy and all for nothing, Mr Johnston told Radio New Zealand this morning.
"All this driver had to do was stop. He was told to stop, indicated to stop and that's all he had to do.
"We don't know why he chose to try and run from the police, it's an absolute mystery to us."
He could face a raft of charges, including manslaughter.
"Police were duty bound to stop this driver. Travelling at nearly 90kmh along Ferry Road is a recipe for disaster. He could have killed anyone at any stage," Mr Johnston said.
"Blame for this tragedy lies entirely with this driver. He was signalled to stop and he should have stopped."
Mr Johnston said he had spoken with the officers involved and they were "absolutely devastated".
"They are morally bound to do something about a driver that's travelling so fast on Ferry Road. He could have killed anybody at any time and instead he just decided to run away from the police and we've got a horrific tragedy that we now face and we are devastated.
"The accident happened right in front of their eyes. We join the police to make a difference, we really do, and to have a tragedy like this happen in front of them, you know, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
"It's just an absolute tragedy and we need to stop it, we need to do something to stop this absolutely horrific act of just running from the police, because we are losing too many innocent lives.
'LIKE AN ACTION MOVIE'
Witness Makoto Kobayashi said the collision looked "like an action movie", with both vehicles rolling about 100 metres. The police car and the pursued vehicle were at "absolute maximum speed".
"They were really speeding," Kobayashi said.
"It [the pursued car] crashed into the red car and then both cars flew in the air. They were rolling over and over. It was like an action movie.
"It was a nightmare. It was unbelievable," Kobayashi said.
"I just felt nothing. It broke my heart. I couldn't feel anything. It was so shocking."
The red car came to rest on the west side of Fitzgerald Ave, while the dark-coloured car ended up in a driveway on the other side of the road.
Kobayashi said the driver of the dark-coloured car had blood on his head and was taken away in an ambulance.
Firefighters used the jaws of life on the red car to take the car roof off.
- with Timaru Herald and NZPA
- The Press